Local men lean on each other to train for, finish grueling event

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ironman is an individual competition—in fact, it is the longest one-day endurance event in the world.

But three local men might not have been able to complete the competition without each other.

“It helps motivate you when you train with someone you know…and the camaraderie. That’s big,” said Erric Price, who, along with Wes Blair and Steve Penley competed in the Ironman competition in Panama City Beach, Fla. on Nov. 7.

An Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim in the gulf, a 112-mile bike ride then a 26.2-mile run.

Blair, 21, of Thorsby and Penley, 50, and Price, 26, both of Clanton, competed against more than 2,400 people from 44 countries.

102 competitors did not finish the event.

Blair just missed qualifying for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

“The only thing that matters for all of us is that we finished,” Penley said.

But the trio was competing for more than just a time. They raised money for their church, Lomax Assembly of God, by asking people to pledge a certain amount of money for each mile they completed.

The men trained for 18 months prior to the event, including many Sunday mornings spent swimming across the Lake Mitchell slough at Grace’s Marina.

“Anybody can run 26 miles or swim 2 miles or whatever, but to put it all together is pretty hard,” Blair said.

Penley and Price decided to enter the competition for the challenge, while Blair said he was convinced to join in the training by Price.

The three plan to enter the event again in 2011.